Comment on public health emergency in summer 2018 as official new figures show hundreds died during heatwave in England and Wales
Commenting on the publication today (30 November 2018) by the Office of National Statistics of the ‘Excess winter mortality in England and Wales: 2017 to 2018 (provisional) and 2016 to 2017 (final)’, which shows that an increase in deaths occurred during hot weather in April, June and July 2018, Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:
“These figures unfortunately confirm the scale of the public health emergency that occurred this summer when several hundred people in England and Wales died during hot weather. There was a big spike in deaths during the hottest day on 27 July, as well as during the heatwave conditions on 25 and 26 June, and during unseasonably warm weather on 18 and 19 April during unseasonably warm spring temperatures.
“It is also notable that there were many extra deaths as well during the cold weather in the winter and early spring months.
“It is likely that many of the people who died during the hot weather suffered from underlying illnesses, such as respiratory disease. Nonetheless, many of these deaths may have been prevented if buildings were better adapted to prevent overheating. The Government has been warned by experts for a number of years that the awareness of the public needs to be raised about the increasing risks of heatwaves due to climate change.
“This summer was the warmest on record in England. Projections published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs earlier this week suggest that the annual probability of a summer being as hot as 2018 could increase to 50 per cent by the middle of this century because of global warming.
“While the Heatwave Plan for England is helping the public health system to prepare to deal with the consequences of hot weather, much of the public remain unaware of the risks they face, particularly from homes that overheat, and so are not taking steps to protect themselves. Lives are being lost because of the Government’s refusal to produce a national strategy for communicating the increasing risks of extreme weather due to climate change.”
For more information about this media release, please contact Bob Ward on +44 (0) 7811 320346.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (https://www.cccep.ac.uk/) is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (https://www.esrc.ac.uk/). The Centre’s mission is to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.
- The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (https://www.lse.ac.uk/grantham) was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (https://www.granthamfoundation.org/).